One stressful thing to have to attempt in Spanish is financial transactions, as it really matters that you say the correct phrases. Thankfully on the Costa del Sol we have a number of banks which particularly cater for the expatriate population and speak many languages, such as Solbank, and then branches of familiar UK banks which specifically cater for us Brits, such as Barclays.
However, if you find yourself somewhere without an English speaking bank and need to do simple tasks such as changing money, here are some phrases to help.
AT THE BANK
Which counter do I go to to change money?
¿Debo ir a quél caja para cambiar el dinero?
I would like to change some travellers’ cheques, please.
Quiero cambiar algunos cheques de viaje, por favor.
Is there commission?
What’s the exchange rate for Pounds Sterling?
¿Qué está el tipo de cambio por la libra esterlina?
Featured Property – 2 bed holiday apartment Estepona
For one of our featured properties, we have a two bedroom apartment overlooking La Resina Golf course, 10 minutes from Estepona. As well as two spacious bedrooms, there’s a great lounge/dining area opening out onto a south facing terrace for al-fresco dining and beautiful views overlooking the golf course to the Mediterranean sea. To make this even more attractive, there is a special discount for stays longer than 14 days, and the rental rates are very competitive.
Estepona Holiday Property – Why holiday in Estepona?
Estepona is a great town, within easy reach both of Gibraltar and Malaga airports, which has a lovely relaxed Spanish atmosphere and lots to see and do. Well known for its long stretches of wide sandy beaches which can be almost empty and lots of great chiringuitos (beach restaurants), it’s a family favourite, which has amazing playgrounds stretching all along the seaside promenade. Kids and parents will love Selwo Safari Park to see the animals, and you’re not far from Gibraltar and a trip to see the monkeys, or do a whale watching adventure!
It has a pretty old town, with small winding streets with colourful plants in pots, hidden squares with inviting cafes and lots to explore. There’s also a great bar and restaurant scene and always something going on. Check out our Estepona guide here for more information on this great location and other excellent holiday rental properties.
After half term, the next opportunity to get away, for those with kids, is the Easter holidays. It’s an excellent opportunity to enjoy the wonderful combination of weather, culture and family activities that the Costa del Sol has to offer.
The weather starts to really hot up at this time of year, so strolls in the warm sunshine are great to enjoy, and if you’re lucky you’ll even get some time on the beach. Easter marks the start of the tourist season and the atmosphere really ramps up, beach bars start to reopen and there are loads of events and special activities.
Palm Sunday marks the start of Semana Santa or Holy Week and throughout this week you can see stunning displays of the catholic faith which is so important to the Spanish people. There are daily parades through the streets featuring striking religious statues carried by devotees, some very sombre and some celebratory, but all fascinating and very different from the commercial side of Easter. You can get an Easter programme with all these activities from the tourist information office in the run up to the holiday or view it online www.marbella.es
In addition to this there are many Easter activities such as parties at the play centres like Galaxia in San Pedro, special Easter Egg Hunts and many sports and activities camps which will be announced shortly. Keep your eyes peeled on Marbella Family Fun for upcoming activities.
Sierra Nevada is approximately 2.5 hours away from Marbella’s beautiful beaches by car, so it’s a perfect day trip as part of a winter getaway between December and April. There are classes on offer for adults and children and you can hire your skis and boots so you don’t have to transport them. For younger children there’s a crèche and other activities such as a fun toboggan ride and ice rink. There’s also a great après-ski scene if you wish to stay overnight, with some lovely restaurants, bars and spas to ease aching joints.
If you’re a beginner or intermediate skier you will be pleased by the combination of green, blue and red runs. If you are a very extreme skier, there’s not as much to keep you interested, but there are 7 black runs to get you going. Plus for snow boarders, or skiers wanting to show some serious tricks, there’s a snowboard park including jumps and even a half pipe.
It really is a great little resort and amazing that you can combine skiing with a beach holiday – on a clear day you can see the sea from the very top of the run! A good idea is to start with a few days relaxing on the beach, followed by a few days on the slopes, then the rest of your stay can be back to chilling with long lunches, strolls along the beach and sundowners to finish off the perfect winter break.
We have an excellent selection of Costa del Sol beachfront holiday accommodation where you can relax and use as your base for a few days on the slopes, but just remember the ski season ends towards the end of April, depending on snow conditions.
Spain is well known for its food, whether it’s the famous specialities such as paella and tapas, or the extraordinary eating experiences produced in El Bulli, the country is certainly on the culinary map. However, less people travel to the Costa del Sol for a foodie feast and can sometimes be disappointed with the quality in some of the tourist traps. There is fantastic food all over the Costa del Sol, the key is to know where to look! We have produced a great guide to holidaying on the Costa del Sol which includes a large list of restaurants we know and love which you can download on our sister website. Plus local newspapers and magazines always have a current list of well-regarded restaurants to enjoy. No matter what kind of food you crave there will be something here for you, it’s just a case of looking around.
If you want to really treat yourself to fine food then there are a number of establishments recognised with coveted Michelin stars which will delight your taste buds. These are expensive restaurants of course and require prior reservation, but they are a real experience.
The best known Michelin chef is Dani Garcia who has just made the move from Calima on Marbella’s beachfront to his own restaurant at the Puente Romano Hotel. Skina in the Old Town is tiny but boasts one Michelin star and a personal experience with a sumptuous taster menu. Jose Carlos Garcia heads up restaurant JCG in Malaga Port and El Lago on Greenlife Golf in Elviria finishes the list of Malaga stars.
To celebrate the gastronomy at the area, Dani Garcia brought together 14 Michelin stars to cook in 2014 at the Puente Romano hotel. This series of gastronomic evenings saw where Dani García (two Michelin stars) cook with guests Andoni Luis Aduritz, from Mugaritz de Rentería (two stars), Joan Roca, from Celler de Can Roca (three stars), Quique Dacosta, from the restaurant of the same name in Denia (three stars); Ángel León, from Aponiente, in Puerto de Santa María (one star) and the Malaga “all-stars”, José Carlos García (JCG Restaurant), Diego del Río (El Lago), and Jaume Puigdengolas (Skina), together with Thomas Stork, from Puente Romano.
Events like this confirm the status of the area as a gastronomic hot-spot, so come on down and check out what the area has to offer. Our experienced team can help you to choose the best restaurants in the area, or any other local knowledge so just ask for advice on holidays on the Costa del Sol!
February is obviously the month for showing your love and a romantic retreat can be just the ticket to getting those sparks flying. The Costa del Sol is a great option for some winter sun, great food and atmosphere just a few hours away from the UK and almost all the restaurants put something special on. However, romantic getaways for other special occasions through out the year are just as enjoyable on the Costa del Sol.
For Valentines, the Manolo Santana Racquets club tends to put on a romantic dinner with live music and a luxury menu in a really nice environment, Suite at Puente Romano also do a special menu and have live music. If you’re staying in San Pedro El Rincon de La Sala is a good option for a special set menu designed for two, or if you’re around Nueva Andalucia then Nueva Campana have special menus too. Have a walk around your local area and you’re sure to spot something which suits, but if you are wanting to book for Valentines, make sure you book early as it’s a busy night!
Alternatively, you can turn your holiday rental villa or apartment into a love nest, simply pop down to the local supermarket for some delicious food and wine and some romantic candles and create your own special night to remember without having to venture outside.
If you want to treat your special someone to a romantic break, we can recommend the most suitable property for you, whether it’s a luxury villa which will win the most brownie points or if the perfect day starts on the golf course and ends in a stunning golf apartment we have something for you!!
What better way to beat the the miserable weather than to escape the rain to the sunny Costa del Sol and a 5* luxury villa? Marbella and Puerto Banus is synonymous with luxury yachts, super-cars, champagne parties and high class restaurants and of course the best and most beautiful villas. You can live the dream by renting one of these spectacular properties as a 5* vacation home and treat yourself to the most beautiful spot to enjoy your precious holidays.
Here are a few fantastic options for the most luxurious holiday on the Costa del Sol –
Party the night away at one of the many great discos and night clubs such as Olivia Valere and Suite
To take the work out of finding that luxury holiday home in Marbella we have compiled an Elite Collection of only the best self-catering villas and apartments in Spain which will suit even the most demanding guests.
You can browse our Elite Collection online, or call our helpful team on 0034 952 83 95 95 with your requirements and preferences and we will supply you with a list of properties which will suit you perfectly.
If you are holidaying on the Costa del Sol over the winter months with kids you need to do a bit of research to make sure you can all have fun, even when it’s not hot enough to go to the beach. However there’s lots to do, so there are several blogs written for you about things to do to help!
One wonderful day out is the zoo in Fuengirola, otherwise known as Bioparc Fuengirola. Tucked away in the middle of town is this oasis with hundreds of animals all housed in large enclosures made as close to their natural habitats as possible, for happy, well-treated animals and a much nicer visitor experience.
Although it’s quite a small zoo, it’s really cleverly done with paths winding through plants leading you to different habitat areas. The little ones love exploring and you can see the animals from different levels which works really well. There are shows twice a day and an opportunity to walk through the lemur area through a man-made baobab tree and be within touching distance of these fantastic creatures, as well as a playground and restaurant.
Our favourite animals are the huge gorillas, the two beautiful tigers, the little pygmy hippo and the amazing crocodiles, but for the little ones it’s all about the monkeys and they go wild for the chimps, orang-utans and all the other different species.
Fuengirola has a lot more to offer as well, including a huge shopping centre called Myramar, a striking castle, a range of bars and restaurants and a water park amongst others. It also has stunning beaches, some amazing playgrounds and a long wide promenade, so it is a family favourite destination where you don’t need a car. Check out our Fuengirola area guide and Fuengirola holiday rentals on our website.
Malaga province is best known for the beaches of the Costa del Sol, but many people aren’aren’t aware of the huge stretches of unspoilt countryside just inland from the coast. Due to the beautiful scenery and great climate, these are growing increasingly popular with serious hikers and lovers of the countryside.
Malaga has more than 2,000 kilometers of public footpaths which will be extended by more than 600 kilometers in 2014 when the circular route known as “Gran Sienda de Malaga” will be launched next year.
There are a few walking hot spots in the area, such as the many marked trails behind Marbella at the Refugio de Juanar area which is on the road behind La Cañada shopping centre and surprisingly close to Marbella. This is where the tricky ascent to the top of the iconic mountain La Concha starts which takes around 6 hours and has some seriously precipitous sections where our Director Tony Sidebottom took a nasty fall and had to be airlifted off the mountain. There are less challenging walks available too which are marked and timed, but take maps as well as relying on the trails as they aren’t foolproof. There are also lovely marked routes around the white villages of Istan, Ojen and Casares which will give you a very different view of the Costa del Sol. The village of Mijas Pueblo, near Fuengirola, has free guided walks twice a week which are arranged by the council and lots of lovely signed walks around the area.
There are many books and websites which have information about walking in the area such as Marbella Trails and Walking in Andalucia and there are extracts from the book to be found on Andalucia.com to give a flavour . As always, take care on these walks, take water and food and appropriate clothing, as there are always risks associated with going off the beaten track. Take part in a tour or guided walk to ensure you are in safe hands, there are many companies offering these services such as SUR-walks.
Every year at Christmas, amazing lights go on in Marbella, the Old Town shimmers and pretty bauble lights line the main shopping street. The days still stay sunny and relatively warm, but nights get chilly, so if you are travelling here at this time of year, make sure you bring layers so you can wrap up and be cozy.
In the Alameda Park a Santa’s Grotto usually is set up for the kids by the Town Hall and is free for kids to go along and get a present from Father Christmas.
You can also see a traditional nativity scene known as a “Belen” in the same square. There is a tour of 11 of these nativity scenes through the old town, which is a festive way to explore the pretty old part of Marbella. A map can often be found in the Christmas programme that gets released by the Town Hall. There are also 6 nativity scenes and a Santa’s Grotto in San Pedro, and the map is in the same programme.
During the Christmas period there are many Christmas markets in aid of charity and of course many religious ceremonies throughout the period. There are also many concerts in churches, events and town squares and the traditions of the many different nationalities which call the Costa del Sol home are represented.
There are a few Christmas events organised for the kids, but because the main day for them is the 6th January, when the Three Kings bring their presents, these tend to take place after Christmas day itself.